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Local man plans to honor mother’s memory
With benefit soccer game
Click to Enlarge
Delores Sullivan

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

This June, Patrick Sullivan hopes to celebrate the memory of his mother and raise money for cancer research.

And — eventually — he also might set a world record.

With the assistance of Relay for Life and the Smith River Sports Complex, Sullivan has created the Delores Sullivan Kick for a Cure 24 Hour Continuous Soccer Game. The game will be held at the complex June 14-15.

Sullivan, who coaches soccer at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School and assistant coaches at Bassett High School, said the game would have had a special significance for his mother, who died 17 years ago of pancreatic cancer.

“She always supported me,” Sullivan said. “She was your typical soccer mom.”

Sullivan said that his mother always attended his soccer games, and that “she would enjoy and take pride in” the Kick for a Cure event.

Of course, a 24-hour soccer game requires a lot of players. Sullivan’s goal is to get, at minimum, 32 teams, each comprised of 11 players.

If each team plays for an hour and a half, the game will last 24 hours.

According to Sullivan, the current world record for the longest continuous soccer game, “as it stands right now, is 31 hours straight.”

After this event, Sullivan hopes to set up another soccer game lasting 32 hours, breaking the old record.

Even a 24-hour soccer game has never been done in our area, Sullivan said.

“The only places (in America) I know of that have done this,” Sullivan said, are “up North and in South Carolina, towards Clemson.”

To make the game continuous, the plan is to substitute players from the next team into the prior team while they are still playing.

“Five minutes before the first game ends,” Sullivan said, “we’ll have the next team ready” to be substituted in. The goal is to “keep it as close to the normal soccer rules as possible.”

Potential players shouldn’t worry about their skill level; everyone is welcome to play.

“This is for all ages and abilities,” Sullivan said. “Teams will play games with a team at their ability,” unless they specify otherwise.

The way that the Smith River Sports Complex is set up, it makes it easy to modify the game on the fly for players of different ages and skill levels.

“An advantage to having at at the complex is that I can shrink the field and bring in portable goals to accommodate” younger players, Sullivan said.

Players are invited to play on behalf of a cancer survivor or in remembrance of someone who lost their battle with cancer. The colors of the player’s shirts will indicate what cancer is being represented, according to Sullivan: “Purple is pancreatic cancer, pink is breast cancer, and so on.”

As an added bonus for soccer fans, Sullivan has been sent a number of items from NCAA soccer teams which will be raffled off at the event.

Anson Dorrance, head coach of the women’s national championship team at the University of North Carolina, sent Sullivan a soccer ball signed by the entire team.

“Whatever you need,” Dorrance said in an e-mail, “We can help you out.”

Other items include soccer balls from the North Carolina State men’s and women’s teams, a game-worn jersey, t-shirt and soccer ball from Clemson University, and a signed soccer ball from Kristine Lilly, who played with the World Cup champion U.S. women’s national team and currently serves as a soccer analyst for ESPN.

“A lot of people realize this hasn’t been done before and they want to come on board,” Sullivan said.

Because his mother was an animal lover, Sullivan hopes to set the cost of entry to watch the event at a can of food or a bag of treats to be donated to the local SPCA. He sees it as an opportunity to “help a local business and another way to honor my mother at the same time.”

There will be a fee to participate in the event, though the fee is tax-deductible and 100 percent of it will be donated toward cancer research. Right now, the fee is set at $100, but Sullivan hopes to find sponsors to help lower that cost.

A couple of sponsors have already signed on, and businesses are invited to sponsor teams. Referees are also needed.

To register to participate in the event, volunteer, referee or inquire about sponsorships, call Patrick Sullivan at 734-5298, or e-mail him at


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